In a follow-up to a report in mid-May concerning a mumps outbreak in British Columbia, Vancouver Coastal Health Friday reported the number of cases have increased significantly and spread since that time.

Health officials now say the case count is up to 41, with cases reported in Whistler, Squamish, Vancouver and North Vancouver.

“The average age of patients in this mumps outbreak is 33,” says Dr. Althea Hayden, medical health officer, Vancouver Coastal Health. “Due to their age, most of those infected with mumps likely only had one dose of mumps vaccine and so were not fully protected against the disease. That’s why we are encouraging everyone between the ages of 22 and 46, if you aren’t sure you’ve had two doses to get a second dose of the vaccine so that they are fully protected.”

If you were born after January 1, 1970, you need to have two doses of mumps-containing vaccine to be protected.

If you were born before 1970 or know that you have had mumps infection, you are considered protected from natural infection.

Mumps vaccine is usually given as MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella). Since a second dose of MMR was not added to routine vaccination schedule in B.C. until 1996, many adults born between 1970 and 1996 are not fully protected. If you are not sure if you have complete protection, it is safe for you to receive another dose of MMR vaccine.

MMR vaccine is available for free from public health units, pharmacists, family doctors and most walk-in clinics.

Mumps is a viral illness causing fever and swelling of the salivary glands in the face, which are located below the jaw and ears and under the tongue. Not everyone infected with mumps will have salivary gland swelling. Complications can occur as a result of mumps infections including swelling of the testes in adult males and swelling of the ovaries in adult females, although sterility is a rare outcome. Rare complications include inflammation of the brain (meningitis) and temporary but often permanent deafness.

If you think you have mumps disease, stay home from work and social events. Contact your doctor before going to the clinic to avoid infecting other patients and office staff.